The Consultative Selling Process is the success model professional car salespeople employ. Yes, during the initial few minutes you need to let the prospect know you are professional, knowledgeable, competent. What is even more important, in fact paramount, is that your contact discovers you truly are interested in her needs, the challenge she is facing, what she wants corrected or changed.
Consultative selling focuses on developing a long term strategic relationship. In short, repeat car sales. This selling process is not about making a quick buck.
No, an automobile sales professional looks on each and every opportunity as the beginning of a solid relationship leading to future repeat and referral business.
Imagine walking into a car store and, after being greeted, the car salesman opens with, "So you are looking for a vehicle. Truck or car? For business or personal use? How much is your budget? Is there anyone else who will be involved with the purchase?" - OUCH! No double OUCH!
True, the car salesman does need to know that information. But not right now. The Consultative Selling Process starts with letting your prospect know you want to partner with her to find the right vehicle, that meets both her budget and lifestyle. You do that by engaging the prospect.
The consultative selling process is leading the prospect to a vehicle that fits. The fit means finding out exactly what it is the prospect wants changed or corrected. Specifically, what need or needs exist. The September 2001 issue of Entrepreneur Start-Ups magazine phrased it this way "...consultative selling - that's uncovering and filling needs in a friendly, non-combative and supportive way..."
Engaging the prospect in a friendly, non-combative, supportive way means asking great questions and listening.
To effectively qualify a car buyer you need to listen to what she is saying, what she is not saying, what her body language is saying.
You need to listen with your ears. You need to listen with your eyes. You need to actively listen.
Listening includes feeding back to your prospect what you just heard. For example, "If I understand correctly...." or "Let me see if I have this right..."
Taking lots of notes is part of active listening. Always ask permission, "Ms. Prospect, with your permission I am going to make notes as we chat. This is to ensure I capture the key points and also so that I don't interrupt. I want to ensure we find the right vehicle for you. Is this okay?"
And, be aware that as you are qualifying the prospect, the prospect is qualifying you!
As salespeople, could we be so naive as to believe that the salesperson does all the qualifying? Let's say you are shopping for new clothes. You try on a jacket and the sales clerk says "Wow, that looks good on you." Do you simply look back in the mirror, smile, and say "Yes, it does." Or, for a fleeting moment, is there a reality check? Do you think "Is the clerk for real?"
A prospect is no different. Like us, on our shopping trip, prospects are looking for a reality check.
Prospects do this in several ways. Asking test questions is common. For example, the prospect might ask "If I find the car I'm looking for can I take it home today?" Now she is not really expecting a direct answer. How could you. You do not have all of the details yet. What she is looking for is how you handle the question. Do you stammer something about average delivery times? Do you try to gloss over it and move on to something else. Or, do you simply reply something like, "That is a great question. Before I can answer that I need more information...."
Sometimes prospects make a statement and wait to see how you handle it. For example, "I'm here because a friend told me your dealership is honest. But, I also learned your car pricing is often higher than others." Again, how can you tackle pricing when you and the prospect have not yet agreed on a vehicle?
The car sales professional responds with something like "Ms. Prospect we are indeed rated very highly. And, yes, we are sometimes not the least expensive. Would you agree that before we can compare pricing we need to select a vehicle? To do that,I need more information..."
Like you, a prospect wants to ensure integrity, knowledge, and professionalism of the automobile sales person along with good value for their investment.
Consultative Selling Process
ROI, return-on-investment, is the caveat of the Consultative Selling Process. As an automobile salesman you understand there is no future in encouraging prospects to invest in a vehicle that is not right for them. True, some people see this as sales - 'Sell'em and leave'em', 'Make the sale anyway you can.', 'It's a dog-eat-dog world.'
That is not how an automobile sales professional sees it. Through the consultative selling process the emphasis is on leading the prospect to a vehicle that best meets their needs and suits their wants. Note the word, leading.
In marketing you have push marketing, literally translated as pushing your product on the market to create demand, and there is pull marketing. Consultative selling is like pull marketing; the solution meets the demand.
During the qualification stage, your goal is to establish rapport with the prospect. Through communication, especially active listening, what must be corrected or changed is discovered. The prospect's needs are identified and the sales champion, in her consultant role, affirms to the prospect that she is indeed focused on providing a vehicle that best fits the prospects wants, needs, and Budget.
Remember: Nothing happens until someone sells something.
Sales Champions Make It Happen!